Ex-MI5 head: US hid torture tactics from UK

Lewis Smith,Robert Verkaik
Wednesday 10 March 2010 01:00 GMT

A former head of MI5 has accused intelligence services in the US of deliberately hiding the mistreatment of terror suspects from their British allies.

Baroness Manningham-Buller, giving a lecture in London last night, said the US was "very keen" to prevent Britain discovering how they were getting vital intelligence. She cited the case of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident, who was held at Guantanamo Bay after the 9/11 attacks and provided his captors with useful intelligence which was passed on the the UK security services. She was unaware until 2007, she said, that he had been subjected to waterboarding.

She was surprised at the extent of the information coming from Mr Mohamed as Britain's previous experience of questioning terrorism suspects during the Troubles in Northern Ireland was that they remained silent. "I said to my staff, 'Why is he talking?' because our experience of Irish prisoners, Irish terrorists, was that they never said anything," she said. "They said, well, the Americans say he is very proud of his achievements when questioned about it. It wasn't actually until after I retired that I read that, in fact, he had been waterboarded 160 times."

Her comments follow the insistence of ministers and Jonathan Evans, the current head of MI5, that there was no collusion by British security services in the torture of suspects. Lady Manningham-Buller added at the event, organised by the Mile End Group, a political and historical research body, that allegations Britain was complicit in the torture of suspects could damage MI5's ability to carry out its work.

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